Since 2001, iLounge has reviewed literally thousands of accessories, games, and applications for the iPod and iPhone, and these days, we see so many application- and game-related e-mails in a given week that we wanted to help streamline the process for developers who are interested in submitting software for coverage.
We’ve decided to do this because we realize that many small developers have little experience in communicating with the press about their products, and sometimes don’t know where to start or how to maximize their chances of getting coverage. iLounge does not charge for news or reviews, and does not require beta or other early access in exchange for coverage. We ask only for finished, final reviewable apps, and your understanding that they may be mentioned in our News section, or reviewed in one of three ways: extended full reviews, several-paragraph iPhone Gems reviews, or single-paragraph Small + Weird Apps reviews. Following the pointers on this brief five-point list will help make things a lot easier going forward.
(1) Include promo codes, and make sure they’re valid. We receive lots of form letter e-mails from developers and PR agencies describing apps or games and asking us to write back if we’re interested in covering them. The sheer number of e-mails we receive like this is overwhelming, and we don’t have the time for conversations with everyone regarding their products. If you are interested in submitting a product for potential coverage, submit a code so we can take a look at it. We at least peek at almost everything we receive. Make sure the code hasn’t been used yet, either.
(2) Keep your e-mails short and sweet. The most useful e-mails we receive contain the App Store link, company name and company web site, a brief description of the title and its appeal (including number of levels, key features, or breakthrough differences from prior apps, if applicable), the release date, and the App’s U.S. pricing. For potential news coverage, including a quote or two about why you created the app or game may also be useful. Nothing else is really needed.
(3) Understand what you’re getting into. By submitting a product for potential coverage, you understand that your app will be looked at and compared with other apps, as well as measured against what we believe to be reasonable expectations for its performance. You might think it’s the greatest thing ever developed, but having tried thousands of other programs, there’s a pretty good chance that we won’t think so. But who knows, maybe you’ll surprise us with excellent content or pricing—and this is something we look forward to, every time we try a new app.
(4) Make sure your app is finished. We hate to receive apps that are obviously incomplete and in need of either bug fixes or substantial additions—even worse is when we’re sent one, cover it as-is, and then hear from the developer that he hopes for a re-review because he’s just submitted a new version that fixes the bugs. Users and reviewers are not your bug testers and don’t want to waste their time trying to make your product do what it’s supposed to have done in the first place.
(5) Be respectful, before and after the review. Just as is the case with American Idol’s audition episodes, some people are truly talented, while others are downright delusional about the appeal or quality of their apps. Though your product will be judged strictly on its own merits, the way you communicate prior to and/or after your coverage may leave more of an impression than your app. We’re almost always willing to look at second, third, and fourth apps from a nice developer whose first app wasn’t good, but we don’t have the time or desire to deal with even the first app—let alone a followup—from a jerk.
Good guidelines: Be professional in your initial e-mail. Be polite in any follow-ups. Understand that we rarely have the time to talk with developers to provide more feedback than was in the initial review. Realize that our ratings have the following general meanings: A is excellent, B is good, C is okay, D is bad—demo-worthy—and F is awful. We recommend that readers consider products and services rated B or higher, are neutral on C-rated ones, and advise against D- and F-rated ones.
Big mistakes: Trash-talking your competitors. Requesting a high rating. Telling us that your app really deserved more or better coverage. Trying to post phony comments to iLounge to hype up your app, trivialize its issues, or attack us for not drooling all over it. This isn’t the comments section of the App Store—we will ban you in a heartbeat and call you out.
Biggest mistake: Whatever you do, under no circumstances try to offer us money for coverage, or suggest that you’ll “scratch our back if we scratch yours.” Some other sites might operate like that, but we don’t, never have, and never will. We think it’s sleazy and dishonest; there is virtually nothing you can do that will put us off more than an e-mail of this sort.
Since the beginning, a major goal of our product news and review coverage has been to help our readers learn about great products and great developers, while helping solid companies, small and large, to find appreciative customers. We look forward to continuing this relationship with deserving developers, and hopefully to seeing an increasing array of truly excellent apps and games for Apple’s pocket devices.